This article was published in the September 2022 issue of Basket Korea webzine. The interview was conducted on August 12, 2022.
An unknown coach became the head coach of a team. The team in charge of coaching made the achievement of ‘integrated 6 consecutive wins’. He became a figure who left history in Korean professional sports.
He even hesitated. It’s been quite a while since I couldn’t reach the top. But I am preparing to go up again. He thought about his mission once again, saying, “It is to repay the fans who support us with a victory.” This is the story of Asan Woori Bank director Wi Sung-woo.
That Strange Place: WKBL
Wie Sung-woo wore the player’s uniform until the 2004-2005 season. Although he played 201 individual games, he did not leave a big mark in the KBL. He failed to impress his fans.
His leadership career began right after his retirement. Since 2005, Wi Sung-woo has been the coach of Ansan Shinhan Bank (now Incheon Shinhan Bank). Women’s basketball is very strange. She took coaching lessons there.
It wasn’t easy. everything was unfamiliar A person who has worked out with male athletes all her life had to watch the lifestyle and athletic abilities of female athletes. But I tried to overcome everything unfamiliar. That was the task given to ‘Coach Seong-Woo Sung’.
Women’s basketball was so unfamiliar. You must have gone through a lot of trial and error.
I worked out and lived only with male players. After retiring, I received an unexpected offer to coach the women’s basketball team. After joining Shinhan Bank, everything was unfamiliar to me. I was at a loss as to how to approach the players. I think it’s a difficult thing for women’s basketball leaders who have just retired from men’s basketball.
Which ones are you most uncomfortable with?
The difference in speed was too great. Everyone seems to be out of breath, but I wondered, ‘Are you warming up?’ (Laughs). It’s been a while since I retired from the men’s team, so I think I felt that way more.
How were you trying to fit in?
It was the first time I saw female players play basketball. It wasn’t easy to level up. ‘Why can’t this be? Why is this? Am I teaching the wrong thing?’ But over time, I got used to it. Ultimately, it is a matter of time.
She experienced a combined 6-game losing streak at Shinhan Bank. What was your role as a coach?
The coach prepares the overall framework of the exercise, and the coaches must prepare training according to the coach’s needs. Also, I have to point out what the director misses. Probably all teams are like that.
However, depending on the coach’s inclination and requirements, what coaches do may vary. For example, there are directors who want feedback, and there are directors who don’t. You have to coordinate with the director accordingly. I think it’s important to understand that well.
And I spent time with the younger players. It’s the same now, but I had to close the gap between the veteran sisters and the younger players. I pushed younger players so that I could practice with my older sisters. It wasn’t easy, but it made the team stronger.
Who were the young players you coached at that time?
Coach Choi Yoon-ah of the women’s national basketball team and (Kim) Dan-bi, who transferred to our team, were representative. Coach Choi Yoon-ah has a solid physique and strong spirit, and Danbi was also able to raise her quickly because of her good physical condition.
Unexpected position, unexpected dynasty
Time passed and he became a veteran coach. Wi Sung-woo, who became a veteran coach, received an unexpected offer after the 2011-2012 season. Chuncheon Woori Bank (now Asan Woori Bank), which was at the bottom for four consecutive seasons from the 2008-2009 season to the 2011-2012 season, offered Wi Seong-woo the manager.
It was too big a seat. I needed to worry. However, Woori Bank’s secretariat persistently visited Sung-Woo Lee. Wi Sung-woo eventually accepted the directorship. He started as head coach from the 2012-2013 season.
He was a novice director. His skill and operational skills were lacking. However, the spirit and passion were not pushed by anyone. That spirit and passion took Woori Bank to an unexpected place. The place where Woori Bank went was normal.
Not once. It was 6 times in a row. 6 consecutive losses. Woori Bank became a team that remains in WKBL history. Furthermore, he left his name in the history of Korean professional sports. ‘Director Seongwoo Seong-woo’ has been reborn as the best master of WKBL.
April 10, 2012. Chuncheon Woori Bank has been appointed as the director.
Director Jeong Hoon Jeong came to see me. At first, I gave up. He hadn’t even thought of being a director. He was very careful. He also had doubts about me.
However, Director Jeong-Hoon Jeong kept visiting me 3 or 4 times. I felt that Woori Bank needed me. He consulted with his family, and his wife also talked about giving it a try. I also thought that I would like to try it.
How was Woori Bank from Shinhan Bank?
I watched Woori Bank from the bench for several years. It was one of the teams I watched closely. I thought, ‘The members aren’t bad, so why don’t they get good grades?’
However, I was worried if I could go and do well. Winning was an incredible achievement (laughs). I just wanted to make it so that I could compete with the top teams.
From the first season, the squad was trained rigorously. Many of you are wondering how and how much you trained.
Neither I nor the players knew the limits of our team. So I didn’t set any limits. Since everything was blank, I dragged it from the beginning. The players also did very well.
One official left the words, “I did a training amount that even male players could not digest.” Nevertheless, why did the players follow suit?
Players finished last for the fourth year in a row. The desire to do well was great. At the center was Lim Young-hee (current Asan Woori Bank coach). I was also very desperate. Since I was the first manager, I wanted to raise the team to a higher level. I think the desperate hearts of the players and I matched well.
Achieved a combined 6-game winning streak. Even when I was coaching, I lost 6 games in a row, but I think it was different from how I felt then.
The coach is in a position to assist the coach. This is a position where you have to catch what the director misses. So while I was at Shinhan Bank, I was happy, but I think the sense of achievement was a bit incidental. It was smaller than the sense of accomplishment the director felt. However, I am not the only one who won at Woori Bank. I think we won the championship together because the coaching staff, the secretariat, and the players all helped us well. I think that’s why I was more happy.
Did you think of a combined 6-game losing streak?
I won the championship in the 2012-2013 season, but I thought I would be in last place in the following season. (Laughs) In the 2012-2013 season, there was an outstanding foreign player named Tina Thompson, but in the 2013-2014 season, foreign players were selected in the lower order.
Also, we never knew when our team would drop again. So I tried to make up my mind. That’s why I trained at the same intensity for three years. I heard it later, but the players said they were anxious (not knowing when they would drop).
Woori Bank has achieved 6 consecutive victories since the 2012-2013 season. After Shinhan Bank (2007-2012), WKBL’s second combined 6-game losing streak. built a dynasty
But no dynasty lasts forever. Woori Bank was the same. In the 2018-2019 season, they lost first place in the regular league to Cheongju KB Stars, and in the playoffs, they lost 1 win and 2 losses to Yongin Samsung Life Insurance. Coach Seong-Woo Seong-Woo, who won the championship ring for 12 consecutive seasons from the 2007 winter season, did not even make it to the championship match.
Of course, Woori Bank’s power has not subsided at all. Finished the 2019-2020 season in first place in the regular league (early termination due to Corona 19), and achieved first place in the regular league in the 2020-2021 season. In the 2021-2022 season, it went up to the championship match. However, it did not reach the top like before. The power of Woori Bank was not what it used to be.
In the 2018-2019 season, they did not make it to the championship match.
It wasn’t easy starting with the selection of foreign players. I was hectic all season looking for alternative resources. Also, (Park) Hyejin suffered a microfracture of her finger. Probably came back in the playoffs. It wasn’t the atmosphere to go to the championship match anyway.
In the 2019-2020 season, it took first place in the regular league. However, it ended early due to COVID-19.
(Lim) Young-hee retired, and (Park) Ji-hyeon needed time to adjust. Our team was coming down from a peak. Also, KB Stars has risen to the peak. The league was changing.
But luckily, we took first place in the regular league. They also confirmed their advance to the championship match. But the season ended prematurely. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad, but it wouldn’t have been easy even in the championship match.
In the 2020-2021 season, we also ranked 1st in the regular league. However, they lost to Yongin Samsung Life Insurance in the playoffs.
I think the 2019-2020 regular season 1st place, as well as the 2020-2021 regular season 1st place, is the result of luck. (Kim) Jeong-Eun was out for the season and (Park) Hye-Jin had plantar fasciitis, but (Kim) Sonia and (Park) Ji-Hyun performed better than expected. But in a big game, you definitely need your strength. I thought, ‘if there was Jung Eun…’.
In the 2021-2022 season, we headed to the championship match after a long time. However, they have never won against their opponent, Cheongju KB Stars.
There was also the aging of our team, and there was also an injury resource. In addition, the power of KB Stars has been upgraded. (Park) Jisoo is more experienced than before, and the best shooter named Kang Iseul joined KB Stars. There may be problems with our team, but I think we lost in the end.
Woori Bank reinforced its power after the end of the 2021-2022 season. The key was the ‘recruitment of Danbi Kim’, which was the biggest FA (free agent) word. Danbi Kim was captured on the condition of a total annual salary of 450 million won (salary: 300 million won, allowance: 150 million won) for the 2022-2023 season over a four-year contract period. At the same time, Sonia Kim, who was one of the main resources, was given away as a reward player.
It is Woori Bank, which has rarely changed the composition of the team. Such Woori Bank carried out a mammoth-level reorganization. Even knowing that it was an adventure, there was only one reason for the change. To go to the highest place once again. To be precise, it is to find the glory of the past.
Director Wi Seong-woo is also burdened. Rather than that, I thought of the director’s duties first. Repaying the fans who support Woori Bank with victory. That was the task of director Wi Sung-woo’s command tower.
A big decision was made after the end of the 2021-2022 season. I brought Danbi Kim, who was released as a free agent (FA).
If things go on like this, I thought there would be no team to catch KB Stars. Our team’s strength was also declining. Aging came to (Kim) Jung Eun-i, and (Choi) Lee Sam was also a free agent, so there were variables. If we leave it as it is, we thought the only thing left to do was to go down. I couldn’t stay still. So, we decided to recruit (Kim) Danbi, and we promoted the recruitment of Danbi.
Sonia Kim, who was a key player, was given away as a reward player. I think you must have had a lot of trouble.토토사이트
(Choi) I thought I would catch Lee Sam, and Lee Sam also stayed with our team. It was absurd to send Lee Sam as a reward player. After thinking about many things, I decided to send (Kim) Sonia. It was a difficult decision.
We prepared for the season with our key players by the end of July.
Since (Kim) Jin-hee retired, it was not easy to balance the position in offense. But it wasn’t defense. The feeling of weight under the goal has increased. At the end of July, we had a practice match against the Japanese Mitsubishi team, and the Japanese team found it difficult to defend our team. I think it was great that Danbi did block shots and went outside.
Four players (Kim Dan-bi, Park Hye-jin, Choi I-sam, and Park Ji-hyun) were called up to the national team from August to the end of September. I don’t think there will be enough time to match the sum of the existing players and transfer students.
Selected national team players will return in October. We are joining with less than a month left before the opening. I thought there would be no answer if I did that. So I thought it was necessary to match the players as much as possible before being selected for the national team.
Currently, the national team players are out, but the remaining players are training according to the existing framework. I think that’s the most important thing now. And when the national team players return, we have to regroup with the remaining resources, such as Jeong Eun-i, (No) Hyun-ji, and (Na) Yoon-jeong-i.
This is a somewhat expected scenario. However, I think I am enduring difficulties because I have the goal of winning.
People say that our team has improved, but in fact, KB Stars is stronger. I think it’s an amazing feat. (Laughs)
However, it wasn’t easy for our team to win 6 matches in a row. Even though KB Stars have the power to win a combined 7-game losing streak, I don’t want to make it easy for them to win a 6-game losing streak or a 7-game losing streak. And if you’re lucky, you might win.
Also, if the mood is right now, the remaining 5 clubs can set their biggest goal to ‘advance to the championship game’. If that happens, I think women’s basketball will be difficult to develop. We must do our best to avoid creating such an atmosphere.
Lastly, please say something to your fans.
(Kim) Danbi, (Go) Ara, and (No) Hyunji were reinforced. As the player base has been strengthened, I want to show basketball that has improved from last season.
And I think it is the director’s duty to repay the fans with good grades. It is also my philosophy to repay those who like our team with a victory. No matter how good the fan service is, the fans get upset when the team they cheer for loses.
Also, I think the game is ultimately what the players do. The manager’s job is simply to make the players play well. I hope the fans will give the players a lot of strength so that our players can run with strength. I hope you will cheer me on and tell me a lot of good stories. If that happens, the players will have more power. If the players gain strength, I think they will repay them with good performances on the court.